My 2002 Honda Civic won't start. There is power to the car when I put the key in the ignition, but the engine won't turn over when I go to start it. I live in Canada where the weather has been minus 30 degrees for the last few days and my car has been parked outside without being plugged in. I'm thinking the engine might just be frozen,however I can't find the cord to plug it in. I don't know much about cars so any tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciate.


  • It’s cycling though right? Like the starter is actually turning the engine? Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 22:25
  • Do you have spark? Is the starter working? Is there fuel coming to the engine? "I don't know much about cars so any tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciate." -- That won't get you far. Are you able to check these things I mentioned above yourself? If not, do you have a friend or local shop you can ask this to?
    – Granny
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 8:07
  • What do you mean by plugged in? is it a hybrid?
    – DhKo
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 12:53
  • 1
    @DhKo - in very cold climates it's common for combustion engines to have a block heater that plugs into house current via a small electrical cord dongle. Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


Negative 30 degrees (which is nearly the same temperature in celsius or fahrenheit) is pretty darn cold. Even a healthy, fully-charged battery will struggle to turn an engine over in those temps. The cold-cranking-amps test for batteries is performed at zero degrees fahrenheit (-18 degrees C). So, minus 30 degrees is well below this, regardless of which scale you use.

If your car has sat for several days in these temperatures, I would be surprised if you could start it without spending an hour or two on a block heater.

If the car has a block heater installed (I assume it does, since you mentioned plugging it in), I would first recommend finding a way to plug it in and let the block heater work for a couple of hours. Then try starting it again. If it still won't start, then I would find a way to try and jump start it (make sure the block heater has run for an hour prior to jumping it, too).

Something else you can try (if you're comfortable doing so) is to remove the battery from the car and bring it inside to warm up for a few hours. Maybe even put it on a trickle charger while it warms up, too, to make sure it has a good charge. Then put it back in the car and try to start it.

If you manage to get it started, I would recommend driving to the nearest auto parts store and ask them to test the battery. It's probably toast, and you'll want a new one.

As a long term solution, it might be a good idea to get a battery blanket (a sort of electric blanket for your battery) to go along with the block heater. In extremely cold temperatures, you can plug it in and warm up your battery, which will help with cold starts in extreme temperatures.


Batteries have significantly less power when they're cold, and on top of that, the engine is harder to start when it's cold. (the oil is thicker and consequently gives more resistance)
Also, leaving it standing for a while may have drained the battery a little bit further. (it must keep your radio's memory alive and such)

All of these things add up to each other, which have made it too hard for the battery to start the engine. So while your battery may have been still good enough to start your car when it was in everyday use, and the weather was warmer, it may not now that temperatures have dropped and it has been left standing for a while.

Since it's a hybrid, i'd recommend getting a local garage to come change your battery after confirming that as the cause of problems. If there is no such service available in your area, you can try jumpstarting it with another car, and get a new battery. If you have a friend that has jumpstarted a car before and you didn't, ask him to assist you.

NB: Leaving it standing for a while doesn't make much difference, but it adds up to the rest.


All of these suggestions are good, but one thing I haven't seen mentioned is that extreme cold temperatures can have a negative effect on the actual physical electrical connections, which can cause them to loose enough contact enough to fail to start the car.

While it's more likely in your case. that the battery is not producing the correct output because it's below it's operating temperature, it's worth taking the battery terminals off in either case and give them a good cleaning. If the metal contact surfaces on the posts and cables aren't nice and shiny, freshen them up with some fine sandpaper or a wire brush, and wipe away any dust. Re-attach the cables and make sure they are nice and tight on the posts.

NOTE: Battery terminals are often made of lead, so while it might be miniscule, be very careful when dealing with any dust created. Avoid breathing particles and wash your hands thoroughly, as well as any clothes worn when you are done.

  • There is fule in the car, all the fluids have been topped up and I bought the battery about 6 months ago. I also did have the block heater plugged in for 24 hours now but still nothing. I will bring in the battery to warm it up and clean off the battery terminals to see if that helps. Thank you all for your help/suggestions!
    – Bmarie
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 0:50

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